The federal government seems to be erasing any hope of an early return of the remaining kidnapped Chibok girls.

Nigeria’s defence minister, Mansur Ali, has warned that it may take years to find all the Chibok girls kidnapped by Boko Haram.

Boko Haram kidnapped the 276 students from a government secondary school in the north-eastern town of Chibok, Borno State, on April 14, 2014.

About 195 of the girls are still missing and are believed to be in the custody of insurgents, whose activities have caused the death of about 100,000 people since 2009.

Speaking to VOA’s Hausa service, monitored in Yola, Mr. Ali, a retired brigadier general, said the military is committed to finding the girls and is searching Boko Haram hideouts in the Sambisa forest in Borno state.

He compared the inability to find the girls despite retaking most of the territory initially occupied by Boko Haram to the U.S. efforts to find Osama bin Laden after the invasion of Afghanistan.

“It took the U.S. up to seven, eight, up to 10 years before they could get to bin Laden,” he said. “We are continuing our campaign in the Sambisa Forest in all its nooks and corners.”

Mr. Ali spoke to VOA as activists marked the third anniversary of the girls’ abductions demanding more from the federal government to find the girls.